I am ordering a new boat (long story) and am going to get a custom bulkhead. I don’t really plan to brace against the bulkhead, but would like to make more room in the front hatch.

How are custom bulkheads measured? When someone says they have a 32 inch custom bulkhead, what does that actually mean?

I am 5’8 with a 31 inch inseam. Would that mean I should order a 31 inch bulkhead?

Unfortunately I don’t live near a dealer who could help with this measurement.

thanks for your help


Way we were measured

– Last Updated: Dec-18-07 10:01 AM EST –

You should call a dealer to confirm if this matches how they do it before actually ordering a boat. Pay the long distance fee to get this right.

My recall from when we ordered our first glass boats was that the dealer had me sit in an Explorer LV then measured from the front of the seat to my feet with legs laying relaxed. He added a few inches in my case to account for adding foam (MUCH nicer on the feet than the bulkhead itself) and to get a length that wasn't too short to leave the boat re-sellable.

But please call a dealer to confirm this one for your boat. Using the front of the seat may may be something that worked better in the boat I was ordering at the time, with glassed-in hung seats, than the boat you are dealing with now.

Also - you want enough length to be able to relax and stretch out your legs and feet. Using a standing inseam is probably too short to allow that.

reference point
somehow you gotta figure out a reference point.

a 32" bulhead is measure from SOME point. you gotta know that point

front of seat? back of seat? somewhere?

I’ve seen 'em screwed up and it sucks. too short REALLY sucks


Best to error on the long side…
As you can always add a little foam to get it right. Too close and reentry can be impeded.

I set a BH in one of my S&G’s a tad closer than I wanted and I always wished it was an inch further.

When I sold it I had to ask potential buyers what their inseam was, so it was limiting.

In my Nordlow I am using the foam against the footpegs method as I have the std. BH and it is working great.

didn’t know there was a 32" bulkhead
I’m with flatpick, the reference point is on the boat.

What kayak?
NDK measures from the front of the factory seat. I always add 3 inches and then use a 3 inch foam pad. That way people with longer legs can use/buy your boat.

I made the mistake…
…of trying to do this over the phone with a Valley dealer. Bad idea. Even if you have to drive several hours one way, I would advise you to go to the dealer that has the boat you plan on purchasing and get the measurement right by sitting in the model boat you want (with the seat you want). As someone else said, a bit longer is better than a bit shorter.

You’ll need about 4" longer if you plan to install a pump. Even if you don’t plan to install a pump, you might consider leaving it that much longer so that you have the option (or the next owner of similar proportions) at a later date.

The result of my experience was that I got a bulkhead that was inches further away that it should’ve been and I had to do some mods to make the boat work for me. I eventually got tired of these mods and, like you, wanted more room in the front, so I built and installed my own curved bulkhead and reinstalled the pump. But it would’ve been better to avoid the issue from the get go by traveling to the dealer and sitting in the boat with gear on. You’ll likely putz around with the foam for awhile find the best thickness and angles for comfort and functionality. Have fun!

Foot Pegs
Well, I actually still plan to use the pegs and only really want the custom bulkhead to add some cargo space in the front hatch.

If I do decide to go the foam route then I will still have that option.

So erring on the long side is fine with me.

The stock boat I have now (same model I will be ordering)I have the foot pegs set such that I have about 9 inches space between the bulkhead and the pegs…yeah I will never play in the NBA.

I guess one point of reference is to find out what the manufacturer sets as their stock bulkhead placement (then I could back it up about 6 inches).

The boat is a Nordkapp LV.


Have them build it without gel-coat!
I wonder if Peter and his team would infuse you one without the egg shell? An extra layer of glass in place of the egg shell would be great!

Who careas about looks…besides, it’d look cool. My surf boats have no gel-coat and are awesome. In any case, leave the gel-coat thin in all but the keel area. Just my opinion…Nice boat!

Just wondering if you’ve tried the
…bulkhead footrest route. It is very comfortable. There’s no holes in your boat, nothing to get caught on, nothing mechanical to break, can be customized to fit your body, etc. Downside is if you plan to sell the boat, I guess.

Bulkhead Route
I have not tried it in a sea kayak, but I did have a whitewater boat or two with an adjustable bulkhead and I did not care for it so much.


Ideal measure varies according to boat.

– Last Updated: Dec-18-07 8:14 PM EST –

Although for years it was said that Valley and NDK used 37" as standard bulkhead placement.

My Aquanaut bulkhead is set at 33" and I brace off of 1" of foam (unfortunately my taller friends cannot be comfortable in the boat).

In my Nordkapp LV I am bracing off of 4" of foam with the standard placed bulkhead.

For my new Nordlow, I'm thinking of asking that the bulkhead be placed 1 or 2" closer than standard. I will be bracing off of 2-3" of foam and my taller friends can fit in the boat. (I'm 6' tall and have three paddling friends who are each about 6'3-4").

Though I prefer to loose the rails, for my Romany, I left the rails and foot pegs in place and cut the foam so the pegs rest pretty flush against the foam. I figure this is my guest boat so it should accommodate the widest range of height.

I don’t need that …
much room wilsoj. It’s OK to hav it placed 3 or 4 " closer :slight_smile:

I don’t have much experience with white water boats and, ‘adjustable bulkheads’, (sounds like something prone to problems) but I’d sure encourage you to consider one (foamed out properly) and if possible, try one out somewhere before your final decision is made. Good luck and have fun!

okay wetzool…
but I am keeping the foam blocks I cut for my current Nordlow…

Any word on your Avocet LV?

WW boats?
I believe you had a Dagger RPM Matt - do I have that right? Maybe an Inazone too?

I’ve seen lots of RPM’s, and have an Inazone and a very abused Piedra with the foam footblocks on a metal rail that screws into the side. The foam bulkhead blocks in a sea kayak behave nothing like the adjustable things in the Piedra unless they have been poorly cut so they fit too loosely (like in my Vela where I got lazy). The foam blocks in the LV just sit there and are the same as bracing against the bulkhead except that they are a lot more comfortable by days end. There really isn’t give, but there is a slight cushioning that helps.

If anything, it is closer to how the foot blocks in the Inazone 220 felt before I took one layer out to give me a little more toe room.

Figure out
where you want the bulkhead sitting in another Nordkapp and measure from a “KNOWN.”

I’ve had a couple of boats now with measurements taken accurately and they still seem to be off by a few inches.

The best ‘known’ I’ve found is the front of the cockpit coaming (underneath). This won’t change from boat to boat and by taking that measurement while sitting in another Nordkapp LV, the distance should be fairly accurate. AND, take the measurement in centimeters…not inches.

JUST curious, you mentioned you’re getting a new Nord LV…what are you doing with the used one you had with the gelcoat problems you mentioned in previous posts?

Bowler, check out:

Nothing ‘adjustable’. I put a strap around the foot pump (black thing) to help hold the foam (see the ‘wedges’ for the feet? very comfortable and much more surface area to brace on, etc.) in place if I’m out of the boat in the surf and the boat’s getting maytagged. Cut so that it’s a press fit, though. Just want to be clear on what this so that you are. If you want, check out other nearby photos for bulkhead shots. Good luck.

Don’t fortget resale
Just a thought - boats are bought and sold, and some of us (LOL) go through boats faster than others. A standard bulkhead would be easier to sell when that time comes around. It sounds like things have worked out well for you with Valley, and I am happy for you if so.

re: Valley custom bulkheads

– Last Updated: Dec-20-07 9:07 AM EST –

VCP has apparently tried to standardize the way they install custom bulkhead on their composite boats in a effort to reduce fitting problems.

You need to provide them with two pieces of information:

1) Inseam measurement -
I was measured much the same way as would be used to fit a custom bicycle frame. Wearing my normal paddling shoes and neo shorts the length in inches was measured from the floor to the top of a book place snuggly in the crotch. Note that this inseam measurement is a bit different than your normal pants inseam. My 'Valley' inseam was measured at 33", but my pants inseam measurement is more like 30.5".

2) Foam Thickness -
How much foam will you normally use against your bulkhead? I speced 3" and my boat was supplied with a custom fitted three inch thick piece of foam to place up against the bulkhead.

I was told that Valley uses a bulkhead fitting chart/template. They combine your inseam measurement with the foam thickness you will use to indicate to their fabricators where to place one's bulkhead within a set range. They use this simplified system to reduce bulkhead placement problems (i.e. way to short or long).

The custom bulkhead on my Aquanaut LV is certainly not too close. If anything it is a little long, but not by much. I am still fiddling around with placing two additional minicell pads, angled at about 15 degrees, against the primary 3" piece provided with the boat. I still do not have it down quite right. Most of the time I just brace off the 3" piece.

As to potential resale, I have almost 4" of play for fitting someone else into this boat. No it will not fit everyone, but I really don't care. I mainly want it to fit me ;-)

Safe paddling,